Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’
Our scriptures remind us that our primary concern and perhaps rightly, has been with the healing and survival of the human species. We have within our own species experienced such discrimination that the healing stories in our Gospel remind us of God hope for our restoration into full communion with each other so that we reflect the inclusive love of God’s Kingdom in our own values.
We know from our Old Testament that in the days of creation God sees all of creation as good and then he comes to the human creature and speaks of them not only bearing the image of God, but that they are very good. This favouritism has perhaps skewed our understanding and perspective of how think and act in relation to God’s wider natural world.
In our Gospel the healing miracles remind us of our need to present to God the struggles of humankind, especially as we can’t historically have known the struggles of creation. Afterall in Genesis we are given creation to till and use for our benefit.
But the Christian Gospel echoed in James’ letter to us: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?
Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
Yet, scripture reminds us, and has perhaps established within us a constant which only thinks of faith and life and works in relation to human flourishing and satisfaction.
In June 2021 a host of environmental disasters, including deadly rains and floods in Sri Lanka and Guatemala, volcanic eruptions in Indonesia’s Mount Merapi, as well as wildfires in Turkey and tropical storms in the Philippines and Vietnam were reported.
In a timeline compiled by the Anadolu Agency we can read:
June 1: – The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins with forecasters warning of an “above average” amount of looming storms.
June 3: At least three killed with six missing after Tropical Storm Dante makes landfall in Eastern Samar, Philippines.
Canada orders evacuation for residents of Kitimat-Stikine district in British Columbia due to rising water levels of the Skeena River that reportedly kills at least one.
June 4: Recent floods in Somalia’s southern province of Middle Shabelle displaced thousands of families and destroys crops on vast agricultural land.
June 7: At least 17 people are killed with more than 210,000 affected, as flash floods and landslides hit several regions of Sri Lanka.
June 9: At least 11 are killed, seven injured as heavy monsoon rains hit Mumbai, India.
June 11: Seven miners die who were trapped by a landslide in the Mexican state of Coahuila, according to reports.
June 14: Tropical Storm Koguma makes landfall in Thai Binh Province in northern Vietnam.
June 15: Three people are killed in flash floods in Solola Department, Guatemala, according to the authorities.
June 16: Flash floods caused by heavy rains kill 10, injury five in Bhutan, while seven are missing.
Hundreds are displaced after monsoon rains triggered floods and landslides in Nepal.
June 17: A heavy sand storm hits Kuwait, buildings shrouded by heavy dust.
June 19: Severe thunderstorms struck parts of Belgium, leaving 92 homes severely damaged and 17 people injured.
June 20: Deadly tornado kills one while damaging dozens of buildings in Montreal.
June 21: A multi-car collision on a tropical storm-soaked interstate in the US state of Alabama leaves 10 dead, including eight children in a single van and another girl in an SUV.
June 25: Mount Merapi, located on the border of Indonesia’s Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces, erupts three times, ejecting hot clouds as far as 3,000 meters away (9842 feet).
June 26: Deadly tornado kills five, leaving 150 injured in Czech Republic.
June 27: One forest worker dies while battling forest fires with firefighters that erupt in Turkey’s southwestern Mugla province.
June 28: Heavy rainfall in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) claims at least four lives, including a pregnant woman.
June 29: Western Canada is sweltering under record high temperatures that may have killed scores of people in Vancouver.
June 30: At least two people die in western Texas in the US following heavy rain and flooding.
My fear is that we only see catastrophe through the calculation of human life lost or impacted upon. And not about extinction, the destruction of natural habitats and the rainforests and the polluting of the seas and so on.
We are prone, are we not to see the struggles of our sisters and brothers living in famine because of drought, and that is good.. but in this climate emergency, we cannot only save the world to save our brothers and sisters. We must save the world because we think it is important within our faith to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
For millennia we have failed to see that the healing stories of Jesus are primarily reminders that we are the one family of God, and the excluded should be welcomed home, and honoured. And those who society rejects must be the true treasures of the church.
But now, we must see the bigger and wider picture. That we are to be part of God’s creation and not the catalyst for its widespread destruction.
This evening at Evensong the Choir will sing, “the heavens are telling the Glory of God” while the earth shows the insatiable and unsustainable appetite of humankind to take take and take.
Our Christian vocation is to honour God’s creation. And not only to see humanity healed and restored, but the seas, the land, the spicies and the ecology of our world saved.
We have faith, we cannot have faith without good works… so we have faith and work to proclaim and to do…
God will not save us from our destructive ways, but he has already given us the medicine the insight and the wisdom that things might change – if we change. As ever, it comes down to you and me. And our genuine desire to see the world around us flourish rather than just ourselves reigning over dead crops, dried up lakes and the carcasses of animals we once feasted on, now extinct.
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead